Life and Accomplishments


      Michael Mode is a self-taught lathe artist, born in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, in 1946.  His first experience of woodturning came in 1973 while watching a Moroccan craftsman using an arab bow lathe to make mashrabiya spindles.  A fews years later when trying a lathe himself for the first time, his aptitude, passion, and design sensibility for woodturning immediately became obvious.  His earliest efforts focused on lidded containers created on a foot-powered lathe made from an antique sewing machine.  A motorized lathe soon replaced the foot power, but the theme of lidded vessels continued through all his major works until May of 1999 when he began creating laminated bowls as well.

    Michael draws inspiration from several sources, including the material itself, particularly burls and  figured woods; from the interplay of openness and closure in a lidded form; from the art and architecture of Mughal India and the Islamic world which he visited extensively in over two years of world travels; and most recently in the combination of geometric patterns with the curvature of turned objects to produce surface designs of intricate symmetry and grace.

    Michael’s work has been purchased for numerous museum collections, including the Renwick Gallery of American Craft of the Smithsonian, as well as many of the private collections in the United States.  He has taught aspects of his woodturning skills at symposiums of the American Association of Woodturners and for local chapters of the same organization as well as at the Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and other craft schools around the country.  He has written articles for Fine Woodworking, American Woodworker, and Wood Magazine and his work is featured in various books about woodturning and woodworking.  He lives with his wife and family in New Haven, Vermont, where he maintains a one person woodturning studio.

Collections and Show Awards:


    Museum of Arts and Design, New York
    Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
    Smithsonian Museum of American Art,  Washington, D.C.
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    Contemporary Museum of Hawaii
    Detroit Institute of Art
    Minneapolis  Institute of Art
    The Danforth Museum of Art
    Peabody Essex Museum
    Tang Museum of Skidmore College
    University of Michigan Museum of Art 
    Fuller Craft Museum
    Cincinnati Museum of Art
    Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
    Currier Museum of Art    
    Boston Museum of Fine Arts
    Art Museum of South Texas
​    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Award of Excellence,  Laumeier Sculpture Garden Art Fair, 2017
    Best in Show,  Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival, 2016
    Best in Show,  Palm Beach Fine Craft Show, 2015
    Best in Wood,  Bethesda Row Art Festival, 2014
    Second Place Wood, St. Louis Art Festival, 2013
    Award of Merit, Boca Raton Art Museum Festival, Boca Raton, Fl. 2012
    Purchase Award,  American Craft Exposition, Evanston, IL  2011
    Purchase Award,  Art on the Square,  Belleville, IL    2011
    Award of Merit, Boca Raton Art Museum Festival, Boca Raton, Fl.  2011
    Best of Wood,   Art on the Square,   Belleville,   Il.    2010
    2nd Place Wood Award, Coconut Grove Arts Festival,  Miami,  2009 
    Award of Merit, Cherry Creek Arts Festival,  Denver, 2005
    First Place Award, Danforth Arts Festival,  2004 
    Award for Excellence and Originality,  Ann Arbor Street Art Fair,   2003
    Second Place Show Award,  ACC Craft Fair Sarasota,  2002
    Third Place Show Award,   ACC Craft Fair Atlanta,   2002
    Award of Distinction, Naples Arts Festival, Naples, FL.  2001
    Second Place Wood , Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Coconut Grove, FL. 2001
    Award of Merit,   Danforth Museum Craft Fair,   2000
    Best of Wood,  Coconut Grove Arts Festival,  Coconut Grove, FL.   2000
    Best of Wood,   American Craft Exposition,  Evanston,   Il.   1999
    Jurors’ Award for Superior Excellence, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, 1998 
    Award of Excellence in Wood, Westchester Craft Show, Westchester NY. 1997
    Purchase Award, American Craft Exposition, Evanston, Illinois, 1996
    2nd Place Wood Award, St. Louis Art Fair, 1995
    Jurors’ Award for Superior Excellence, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, 1995
    3rd. place Wood Award, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver, CO. 1995
    Excellence in Wood Award, Washington Crafts Expo, 1994
    2nd. Place Show Award, Boston Mills Arts Fest, Ohio, 1993 
    Best Presentation of Crafts, Washington Crafts Expo, 1989
    Best In Show, Washington Crafts Expo, 1988


​   Audacious, the Fine Art of Wood,  Montalto/Bohlen Collection,  University Press New England,  2015
    The Cutting Edge, Contemporary Wood Art & the Lipton Collection,  Fine Arts Press, 2011  
    Woodturning Today,  American Association of Woodturners,  2011
    Conversations With Wood,  Ruth & David Waterbury Collection,  Mpls. Institute of Art, 2011    
    Wood Art Today: Furniture, Vessels, Sculpture (Schiffer Design Book) 2010
    New Masters of the Wooden Box,  Fox Chapel Publishing,   2009    
    American Art Collector,  Alcove Books,  2008
    New Masters of Woodturning,  Fox Chapel Publishing,  2008
    400 Wood Boxes,  Lark Books,  2004
    500 Wood Bowls,  Lark books,  2004
    Nature Transformed,  Wood Art from the Bohlen collection,  Hudson Hills Press,  2004
    Art & Antiques magazine,  featured studio artist,  October,  2003
    The Fine Art of Wood,  the Bohlen Collection,  Abbeville Press Publishers,  2000
    Contemporary Turned Wood,  Hand Books Press,  1999
    The Fine Art of Small-scale Woodturning, Sterling Publishing,  1999
    American Woodworker magazine,  #44, April, 1995, French Polishing on the Lathe
    Fine Woodworking #102,  back cover
    The Art of Making Elegant Wood Boxes,  by Tony Lydgate, 1993
    Fine Woodworking Design Book Six,  1993
    Fine Woodworking #89,  A Turner's Chess Set
    Wood Magazine,  December 1988, Heirloom Tree Ornaments
    Fine Woodworking #73, stroboscopic turning technique
    Fine Woodworking Design Book Four,  1987
    Fine Woodworking #62, making wooden chucks
    Redbook Magazine,  December 1986, Victorian Christmas Decorations